Thursday, December 27, 2012

What's my word?

So 2012 is coming to an end. What a frickin year. Sorry but it was. It was just one year ago Christmas Day that I had emergency surgery and found out I had colon cancer.

It's been a long hard year and I'm still dealing with the fall out - emotionally, physically and financially. I know I should be feeling more grateful at this point. I mean I survived right? The cancer is gone and I'm slowly putting my life back together. I'm in a new relationship with someone who is crazy about me, my relationships with my children are improving steadily. I'm back working. I have an art show in February. What's not to be thankful for?

And yet..... I'm not. Not really. I'm feeling kind of angry and picked on and resentful.
And I don't understand why. I went through these feelings with my initial diagnosis and again during chemo. I'm not going to beat myself up for feeling this way. I'm entitled to feel the way I'm feeling. I just wish I understood the why better.

I have joined a group called Wild Soul Arts and am taking a Book of Days art journaling course through that. I am hoping that I will be able to better cope with and understand where I'm at with all these emotional left overs.

One of the things that Effy (our fearless facilitator) suggests is finding a word that speaks to you and working with that word throughout the year. To pick something that embodies the person or direction you wish to move towards. There are a few words that call to me: "grace" "openness" "acceptance" "healing". They all speak but none sticks out more then another. I will have to do some more thinking about this.

I know that things work out the way they are supposed to and that everything happens for a reason. And understanding and accepting those reasons and that path is how we grow. I believe that, I have faith in that. But I'm only human and sometimes it takes a while and frustration and anger and resentment are all apart of that.

I am looking forward to this course very much and to see what my book of days turns out to be. And discovering what my word is.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Next Steps

OK, so its been quite some time since I've done anything with my blog.  Life got very difficult as my chemo treatments where heading in to the final stretch.  Apparently the effects of chemo are cumulative.  I'm sure someone told me that at the start but I guess I chose to forget that tidbit of info.

The good news is that chemo finished up in August and I am free and clear.  At least for the moment.  My CT scan came back clear and the markers that they test for in the blood, while high are stable.  I will have to continue to have blood tests, colonoscopies and ct scans fairly frequently for the rest of my life, but its a small price to pay for being alive and kicking.  I also can officially say I'm in remission in 5 years time.  Its a bit of a ways a way, but that's OK.

I've gone back to work part time, just waiting for my surgery date in March so I can get my plumbing hooked back up.  For the record, although the chemo made me sick, dealing with a colostomy is much more aggravating. 

I have also embarked on a new art adventure.  I am taking Effy Wild's Book of Days premium course starting December 31.   I am so excited.  She has some courses included when you sign up that you can access right away.  I've already learned how to bind my own journals.  Finicky but not difficult.

I will try and post more regularly and hopefully it will be more positive soul searching stuff.  More art, more living. 

I hope you will still be with me as I take the next steps on my journey called life!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Off the Beaten Path

Ok so I haven't posted for a while. Today is another chemo day. Treatment #9 of 12. Almost done. As long as they don't keep pushing it back. That's what happened last week. My blood work was low so the gave me an extra week.

But I don't want to talk about my cancer this week.

Today I want to talk about art. Specifically this online course I'm taking from Linda Womak. She's an encaustic artist from Portland Oregon and her work is amazing. Check her work out here:
There is also a link to her online classes.

The class I'm taking is all about collage. I started out ok following step by step. And then something amazing happened. The wax flowed into this really cool bird shape and I just had to run with it. I did manage to collage in some book pages for a nest but that was all.

It was a little life lesson I think. Even though I was following this specific path something happened to take me in a totally different direction. And that's ok. I was open to it. It's a little bit scary sometimes to take a step off that path, but the rewards can be amazing.

I don't know what I am going to do once all this cancer stuff is done. I need to get back to work but what that will look like, I'm not sure. Do I go back to what I know? Or do I try something completely different? I know I need to make money. That's the reality. But how I do that is wide open at this point. I will just have to wait and see what life has planned for me and keep my eyes open for those unexpected steps off the beaten path

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Naps, Reason, Faith and More Naps!

It's been a while since my last post. At least it feels like it to me. This last round of chemo seems to have hit harder then the others. My main issue this time is all the sleeping I do. I know that chemo kills good cells along with the bad cells and if I'm sleeping all the time because my blood cells need to regenerate then it must be working. But it's very much taking that statement in faith. I have no proof to say yes this is working.

I've never been much on organized religion. I totally understand what faith and church mean to other people. The sense of community of belonging. Its very powerful. It's just not for me.

I still struggle sometimes in what my belief and faith are. As much as I'm a science geek I firmly believe in a greater power. I'm just not sure what that power is. Is it God, Budda, fate karma or some Alien species? I don't know. But that's part of what faith is. Believing without knowing, without proof. I do know everything has a purpose and that everything happens for a reason. I just have this compulsion to know what the reason is. It makes for interesting late night conversations with myself.

I don't believe that reason and faith are mutually exclusive. They actually complement each other. It's the blind faith I have issues with. And I'm sort of stuck in a position where I have to take things on blind faith. It's a rather scary position to be in.

So I nap and think and struggle. And nap. And nap some more. Mostly nap.

Sometimes I think trees must have the answer. Their long life gives them a perspective unlike anything else. If only I spoke tree. Ah well. I will continue to leave my doors open and question and believe and have faith that yes there is a reason and yes the chemo is working. And Nap!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Blog Hop and Swap... or is That Swap and Hop?

I apologize for being late posting this.  Life kinda got away from me this week, namely a kitten we -meaning me- picked up.  He's adorable, but with two full grown labs, and another adult cat, it makes for interesting times.  Especially since the only one who really has issues is the kitten.  I think we've decided on Mmrr for a name.

OK, so we only got the kitten last night, but I am the queen of procrastination, and had planned on doing this post last night. lol.  That's life for you.

I took this online course called Building a Creatively Made Business with a whole lot of other creative and wonderful ladies.  Stacey Curry from Star Hitched Wagon came up with the idea of doing an item swap and blog hop.  The last blog hop I did was so much fun, that I said yes to this one. 

The lady I got partnered up with is Carolyn, a fellow Canadian.  What Fun.  I did up two separate pieces for her, and in return she sent me the most wonderful gift in return.

I am not sure how many of you are aware that I am currently going through Chemo for colon cancer.  But I am, and its created a great deal of chaos and change in my life.  That's why I was so thrilled to get what I did from Carolyn.  She took the time to make a gift especially for me.  I had all kinds of little extras with it, and she even took the time to scent the blanket with aromas that promote healing and peace.  I am always amazed at the thoughtfulness and support that is gifted to me from people who really are complete strangers.  I only know them through the course and Face Book.  Thank you so much Carolyn for the fabulous gift.  It arrived at just the perfect time for me. 

She sent a prayer shawl/lap blanket (in my favourite colour), a coffee cozy, a book by Beth Moore and some tea.  Yummy soothing delicious tea.  She sent three but used one before I remembered I was supposed to take pictures.  I use the blanket every day to snuggle in.  Its the perfect weight for summer.  I'm always cold, especially since I started Chemo, and this is just perfect to keep me warm without overheating me.

This was so much fun.  Here's the list of the fellow participants.  Please take the time to check them out. Happy Blog Hopping!

Brenda Geiger

Carolyn Carelton

Cathy Purcell

Christa Thomas

Deborah King

Jenna Alexander

Joanne Freeman

Kate Gadd

Lis Dunn

Lisa Lovestrand

Liz Bradley

Mikel Lyman

Pam Klenczar

Renee Ortiz

Renee Sendelbach

Sheila Rumney

Stacey Curry

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Oh Where Did My Mojo Go?

It's been a while since I posted on here. I think I've hit a bit of a motivational roadblock.

I was supposed to have chemo last Monday but they pushed it to tomorrow. Said my blood levels were too low and I needed an extra week to heal. That really threw me for a loop. I'm more of a if this is what's needed lets do it and get done kind of gal. I just want chemo to be done.

Cancer is hard because it's pretty much hidden. Chemo makes you unwell and the side effects are no fun but unless you have the more visible side effects you could conceivably hide it from everyone.

I don't like to hide things so when people I know ask me how I'm doing I say very tired. When they ask why I tell them. They all react differently. I suppose it could be considered not nice to spring that in a casual conversation, but it shouldn't be. Cancer is far more prevalent then I knew. Lots of people have had it.

I'm not trying to make light of it, it is a serious disease which can be fatal. But so can crossing the street, or flying in a plane or walking in a thunderstorm. It's all about the odds. And I've never really paid attention to them. I don't even know what my odds are with my cancer. Lol. The doctor didn't need to use them to convince me to take chemo. And I don't want to know. I want to focus on living. How long I live is up to fate; it's what I do with the life I have that's important.

It's been an interesting trip so far. I'm discovering what I can and can't do during treatment. I'm learning to say no and I miss working something fierce. I'm filling up the not working thing with art and putting on the odd workshop at the local art centre but for someone who is a working single mom it's hard to have free time.

I think that plays into my lack of motivation. Or maybe it's just a stage that too will pass.

Hopefully in the next few weeks I'll get my mojo back. In the meantime I'm entertaining myself with online dating. Ha! I can't believe how many guys don't know how to read. I get responses from guys looking to hook up when I say I'm not interested in hooking up. It's way too funny. I think I might have to do another post on my adventures in the online dating world.

Monday, May 21, 2012

In My Own Backyard

Another May long weekend has come and gone. This year a little different. No camping. Missed out on that last year but that was flood and work related. This year totally due to lack of energy. And active participation from my kids. They used to love camping but now? They are teenagers and it's hard to adjust to that. I miss my little kids. Lol. I suppose they have to grow up sometime!

I spent most of the weekend sleeping although I did manage to get to the Farm Gate Market on Saturday. Its put on by the Riding Mountain Biosphere Preserve (we have a Unesco designated area right in our own back yard. How cool is that?) promoting local producers and artisans.

I'm amazed at what you find locally and how passionate and inspiring people are. I met a lady who has Mongolian yurts. Its an artist retreat. Check out her website. I think it would be fun.

I wish I had taken pics on Saturday but I was too busy talking to people. Finding out what inspires people and why they do what they do! My daughter was just shaking her head but I think she was a little bit impressed too! Maybe.

All in all it was a good weekend. Even with no campfire!

I did buy a nifty new purse and made a donation to get some native prairie cone flowers. Whoo hoo!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Unpacked Boxes

Chemo is coming up again on Monday. I'm trying not to think about that too much. This morning the sun is shining, the dogs are with me and I'm enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee on my front porch. I say peaceful because I only have one teenager home. The other went to a sleep over. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids and wouldn't trade them for anything. But teenagers are NOT peaceful.

I've been sitting here contemplating many things. Not deep thinking. A person can only handle so much of that. But more practical and prosaic thoughts like what to have for breakfast and I really need to finish reorganizing upstairs so I can get back to arting. And what the heck is my dog staring at. I don't see anything.

It was a busy crazy couple of weeks. I entered a couple of my art pieces in the Juried art show which of course was during chemo week. My son started ball again and had his first game Thursday. I had an art morning session with the gals from the Dauphin Art Group. And I decided it was time to move my art stuff out of the kitchen and create my own studio space.

I am a habitual pack rat with the potential to become a hoarder. I've got boxes that have moved with me for the past 13 years but I've never unpacked them. I decided it was time to deal with it. Of course I decide this every couple of months or so and never do anything about it.

But this week was different. It's a been a good week energy wise. And for some reason I'm actually doing it. I'm not sure if it's because I'm craving my own space or I'm using it as a surrogate for cleaning out emotionally. There are still a lot of unpacked boxes hiding in corners in my mind that need to be dealt with. But dealing with the emotional is draining so dealing with the physical is a good substitute.

This whole cleaning and getting rid of stuff is turning out to be surprisingly freeing. And the bonus is I'll have a room all to myself to create or just hang out in and wonder what the heck my dog is staring at!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Evolution of a Reluctant Artist

I have been privileged to sign up for a an online art course through Christy Tomlinson called the Art of Wild Abandonment, and she wasn't kidding.  This time she had a guest guide by the name of Junelle Jacobsen.  Both are amazing artists in their own right and excellent guides for us newbies!

And I am a newbie. I think of myself as a scientist, I love science and math and all that logic. I can pick out patterns in numbers, and think critically and logically.  A couple of years ago, due to my own stupidity (and yes there is no other word than stupidity to describe what I did), I ended up in the hospital with a Holy crap life is way to short moment.  It inspired me to gather my courage and try and repair some relationships I'd let slide.  Wasn't easy, but I, we, did it.  In the course of spending time with my Auntie Heather (who I rarely call auntie anymore-there is only 6 years between us) I discovered she wasn't the same person that I had known.  She too was on life changing journey.  She had discovered the Brave Girls Club, and an online course called Soul Restoration.  I thought that if this course had helped her so much, maybe it would be worthwhile for me to give it a try.  I ignored the art bit.  But it sucked me in, and I discovered that doing the art bit was fun, and not as intimidating as I thought.

Thus began my Arty Journey, and I've ended up here taking this amazing course with amazing ladies and to my absolute horror, I have discovered I have a creative side....and its taking over!

I have to say this course has pushed me way outside my comfort zone.  I don't draw, although I do sketch. And I have definitely been inspired by all the messy classes. 

What this class and all the support from all of you fantastic ladies has allowed me to do is push way outside the box.  I found ways to frame existing pieces inspired by Christy's creative colour course.. figuring out how to do my tree.  I started with the 11x17 canvas, but got stumped

Then I started sketching, and came up with this beauty.

And finally, this was the final result.  Can you find the animal face?

Amazing.  I even got brave enough to enter them into the Parkland Regional Juried Art Show.  The reception is tonight and I plan on adding a few more photos for sure, and the results.  Nervous and excited.

OK, so I just got back from the Juried art Show, and holy!  Positive feedback from the judges and the other artists.  Comments from the judges included for Dragon flies: "Has a neo-native New age feel. Interesting contrast between delicate muslin and heavy tiles."  I have to admit the dragonflies is my favourite piece.

For Tree Dreams: " Choice of pink for leaves (not blooms) is gutsy.  Loads of personality here and inventiveness." "I can't make out what the text in the background says so it becomes another texture.  Conceptually it reads like subliminal chatter or a radio you can barely hear" 

All in all a successful art show and first step on to becoming a professional artist.  And I couldn't have done it without this class.  Thank you all for your support and feedback.  You are all wonderful artists in your own right.  Yay for us!

Welcome to those of you that hopped over to here from Cheri Andrews  Your next stop on this awesome blog hop  is  Christine Piazza  Have fun hopping through these amazing blogs!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Crying in the Middle of the Kitchen Floor

Another week, another round of Chemo.  It seems almost like a never ending cycle.  And each time I go for chemo, they keep tweaking my extra drugs to manage my side effects.  Some weeks are better than others. I have eventually graduated to the expensive pills.  Fortunately for me, and other cancer patients, the Manitoba government is now covering all cancer drugs including the all side effect management ones.  Go Manitoba go.  Of course they still don't pay for genetic testing for colon cancers, only for breast or ovarian.  And yet more people get colon cancer than breast or ovarian.  I guess colon cancer isn't pink enough. HA! 

I apologize if this post isn't as positive or cheery or thoughtful as my other ones.  Its just sometimes the going is tougher than others and it is much harder to maintain a positive attitude when those weeks hit.  But it is all a part of the journey. Some days will be harder, and crying in the middle of the kitchen floor seems like a far more appropriate response than finding the lighter side. 

I do try to find positives in those weeks.  It helps sometimes.  I've managed to get my self hooked into doing a huge craft sale in October.  I had to send in photos of my work to get accepted. Holy crazy batman, what have I done to myself?  But it does give me something to focus on that has nothing to do with my cancer.  I think that is helpful, is finding things that have nothing to do with the cancer and just going for it.  I think I'm crazy to do this craft show.  I don't have near enough art, but again, it will give me something to do, and I have lots of time to get ready. 

I think you have to maintain as much of a life outside the cancer as you can.  Things to do and focus on.  Maybe not what you normally do, but something.  Do what you like when you can. Its way better than sitting in the middle of the kitchen floor and crying.

Things will get better, I know they will.  Sometimes its harder to see that then others.

I promise the next blog post will be way better. I'm participating in a blog hop.  Should be lots of fun.

Here's some info on it.  This is a group of wonderful creative ladies who are supportive and positive and just fantabulous.  Check back May 5th and join the fun.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Leaving the Front Door Open

I got asked on my last post in what way has cancer changed the way I look at my life and what I see differently then I did before.  Friends always ask the difficult questions. At least Greg does. 

I have to admit that this is not my first brush with a life changing event.  A couple of years ago I ended up being life flighted to Winnipeg for emergency repairs.  I lost over half my blood volume to sheer stupidity on my part.  I won't go into details. I don't regret what I did, but it certainly wasn't one of the smarter things I've done.  Lying in the hospital bed after surgery, I had a lot of time to think on what was important to me, and I came to the conclusion that relationships were. 

Family is funny.  You love them, but a lot of times you don't like them, and sometimes you say and do things to family members that you would never say and do to your friends, colleagues, strangers.  I just shake my head thinking of all that wasted time.  At that point in my life I started to repair the relationships that had fallen by the wayside because it was easier to let them go, then to try and fix them.  It wasn't easy.  There was a lot of animosity and anger and hurt, some of it legitimately my fault.  Some of it was by association; families are complicated.  I went into this whole endeavour with the idea that I didn't want to go back to the way our relationship was before things went south, but to start a new one.  Accept responsibility for my actions, apologize, and make a concerted attempt to start anew.  I am very happy to say, its worked more or less.  I also decided to put in as much effort as the other person was willing to, and accept that is the way its going to be.  Its rather freeing to accept people for who they are.  Sometimes I backslide, but its a lot easier now to not get hurt because someone doesn't email me back.  Their reasons have nothing to do with me.  That was a hard lesson to get through, but it was easier once I realized that when I didn't contact people it was because of my issues, not theirs.

So that was the beginning of the change in the way of looking at the world and my life.  I am not the centre of the universe.  As much as I like to think I am, I am not.  I started looking at what was really important to me.  What did I need to live a happy and satisfied life.  I changed jobs, I started doing things I'd not done before.  I opened myself up to new experiences and new people.  Its been an awesome change.  Another point for serendipity. 

Then cancer, and once again I'm realizing that life is way too short, and anything can happen.  I am starting to see that living each day as if its your last is not a bad way to live.  But I'm trying hard to live it unselfishly.  Its hard.  Really hard.  I can't be there reliably for my children, my family, my friends, work.  It is all about me right now, and its very hard to balance that.

I'm starting to notice details..things I never really seen before, like hawks, and bugs, and how beautiful everything is. And of course the crazy things my two labs do.  Like how Gracie sleeps.

I am more appreciative of the support from friends and family and people I don't know all that well.  And I'm letting them help me.  I find that although I don't have the energy to do  things to help people, I am more free with kind and supportive words.  It really does come back to you. 

I'm thinking of things I can do to make my piece of the planet a better one.  We recycle more.  I'm looking at doing a garden this year.  Not a full blown one, but containers.  I'm buying more local and more in season things.  That is harder to do when you are on a fixed budget, but every little bit helps.  Also, because of the side effects of my treatment, there are only certain things I can eat, so its harder to buy local and seasonal, but I try. 

I am starting to do things that I enjoy, and to learn new things like sketching!  Things that bring me peace and happiness.  I plan on exploring in my own back yard this summer.  I may not be able to get in much camping, but day trips are fun, and I'll take my camera and my sketch book, and my kids (if they want to) and just go explore Riding Mountain National Park.  Its 10 minutes from my house to the south gate.  Last spring and fall, I went on a photo safari with Celes Davar of Earth Rhythms as a birthday present for each of my kids.  I never knew what was in my own back yard. Prairie flowers and Beautiful Girl.

I'm not sure how much any of this makes sense.  I'm still struggling with the why me, but as each day goes by I think less of why me and more of what's around me and what I have to be thankful for.  I'm alive, and I have wonderful family and friends and colleagues and acquaintances who inspire me.  I live in a beautiful province with amazing nature and culture and people in my very own back yard.  Just last week ( I think it was last week)  I went to a house concert and met the most amazing poet, Shane Koyczan.  That man took us on a very personal journey of his childhood that had us laughing and crying all in the space of less than 10 minutes. I would go as far as to call him a wordsmith.  A year ago, I never would have even thought to go to a house concert, never mind go see a poet. 

I think this is what has changed in how I look at my life and how I see things differently.  I am leaving my front door open to the possibilities and wonder that are all around me.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Feet in a Cowpie

Chemo Days. Sounds like some kind of fair or celebration. And I suppose in some ways it is a celebration. Today is treatment 3 of 12. I could look at it and say damn, 9 more to go. Or I could say I am a 1/4 of the way on my journey to being cancer free.

My cousin Megan just finished her treatments for colon cancer and she looks at her cancer differently then I do. She always states "I had cancer. The surgery removed the cancer, the treatments are to make sure it doesn't come back." I admire that attitude. And if I'm honest, envy it a bit too.

My attitude is different. I have cancer and the treatments are to get rid of it. Realistically I know that my cancer (even if I never get another tumor) will always be a part of my life now. It's changing how I live my life and how I look at the world.

Chemo treatments are difficult. I don't like feeling unwell and it's hard to justify making myself feel this way when I have no other symptoms. Logically I know that this is what I need to do, but emotionally it makes no sense.

So I make a conscious choice to look at the positive and ignore the negative. I have this fridge magnet that embraces this philosophy. "feet in a cowpie, head in the clouds"

It's a great way to live. I know the difficulties and challenges but I choose to keep my dreams and my head in the clouds!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Serendipity is the accident of finding something good or useful without looking for it.  I actually had to look that up.  Serendipity is a beautiful thing, but trying to define it is difficult.  We've all had these moments.  The unlooked for happiness that happens by accident.  An unintended consequence. 

I was sitting in the chemo room on Monday getting treatment and I was trying to occupy myself.  I'm taking a an online art course right now called the Art of Wild Abandonment.  Its a bit of a stretch for me.  I just recently found my arty self.  I've always been a science geek, analytical, logical.  I was taught you were either one or the other, and never should the two meet. Ha!  It turns out the arty side of my brain has been just waiting to get out.  I do however stress one thing and that is that I do not draw.  Its a bit of a mental block for me.  Art yes, colour yes, cut, stencils, trace etc yes.  Draw no.  I decided to take this course because the instructor Junelle Jacobson is an absolute sweet heart who manages to take the fear out of this whole process.  She even calls it sketching.  Now logically I know that sketching and drawing are the same thing, but sketching is a less scary word.  So I'm doing it.  And its not as scary as I thought it would be.

Chemo is turning out like that. Unpleasant yes, uncomfortable yes, down right miserable sometimes yes.  But scary?  Not so much.

Where was I going with this?  Oh yes, I'm sitting in my comfy chair, reclining and sketching and the word "serendipity" just popped into my head.  I'm still trying to figure out why.  I signed up for the course in November, before I got diagnosed.  Is that accident?  No I don't thing so.  I think the accident is my cancer.  And the unlooked for good or usefulness is coming from taking the time to really do the things that give me happiness, like sketching!  who knew?  I certainly didn't.

I'm finding myself looking forward to the unintended good and happiness that will come from this accident, and all unlooked for.  Serendipity. 

I think I'm going to have to rent that movie...I've heard its good and I really like John Cusak. 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The First Step

Where does one begin?

I've thought a lot about putting fingers to the keyboard and never really gotten around to actually doing it. What would I say? Who would even want to read it? And so I never got around to it.

Then it happened. The big C. Cancer. 42 years old and I have colon cancer. No warning, no symptoms, no signs. Went to BC for Christmas vaction and ended up having emergency surgery Christmas day. Not how I'd intended on spending my holidays, but there it was. And now everything has changed. My whole life is turned upsidedown. And not just mine either. My kids too.

This is making me question everything. I am a big believer in fate and that things happen for a reason. I'm struggling with what's the reason for this. Why did it happen? What on earth could be the purpose. One answer is that Uncle Murphy likes me way too much, but that's too easy.

My sister suggested that I start a blog. If I'm going through this then so are others. And we each have our own unique way of dealing with cancer and struggling with the question of "why me?" She has found all kinds of help and useful insights on parenting by reading blogs. If I do this, if I share this, then I am not alone and neither is someone else. Maybe I'm just fooling myself.

I'm hoping by doing this I will be able to find answers. They may not be the answers, but they will be answers.

So this is my first step on my journey: share my journey.